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View Full Version : No hydrometer reading at outset: How to know when primary is finished?



davidp80
09-18-2012, 04:30 PM
Greetings all,

This is my first post, and I'm super-happy to be here. Thanks for providing a great resource.

Started my first batch of mead on Sunday evening. 6 gallons of water and 18 pounds of raw, local honey. One packet of D-47 yeast. 6 handfuls of raisins for nutrients.

After pitching the yeast, I remembered the hydrometer. I forgot to take the reading. Fermentation has now begun, and my question is.....how do I know when it's time to move the mead from primary into secondary.

I understand that you can just wait until bubbling has slowed or stopped, but I'd like to be more precise. Can I take a hydrometer reading to know when it's time to make the transfer even if I haven't taken the initial reading?

Thanks guys. Any help is appreciated.

-Dave

columbiacritter
09-18-2012, 04:46 PM
I'm new at this too so I'm interested to see peoples opinions on determining finishing. The one I'm going with is when the hygromter reading stays unchanged for a week.

davidp80
09-18-2012, 06:17 PM
And one more thing.....isn't taking regular hydrometer readings introducing a lot of oxygen to the mead at a time when it would be better left undisturbed? Especially if you're brewing in a 5-gallon plastic bucket, taking off the lid each time to take a reading really leaves the must exposed to the open air.

What do you think?

Thanks, everyone.

-Dave

akueck
09-18-2012, 08:13 PM
Take a SG reading ASAP, at least you'll have a "near the beginning" number to go on.

Air in the beginning of fermentation is a good thing. Generally you'll stop checking so often once you get past the 1/3 to 1/2 point, at which point you don't want to introduce any more air.

Stable SG readings after a week is not a fool-proof way of saying "it's done". You're definitely looking for the SG to stop dropping, but it should also be about where you'd "expect" it to stop based on the yeast, OG, etc etc. Stalled fermentations also have stable SG readings, but they're not necessarily "done".

Also, it's not uncommon for fermentations to crawl along for the last little bit, so stable readings over a few months is a lot more accurate than just the one week timeframe. That kind of "stability" is more useful for bottling than just racking, however.

columbiacritter
09-19-2012, 06:18 PM
So at what point with your SG readings do you determine it's time to rack?

akueck
09-19-2012, 07:06 PM
Well there's no one answer, other than "when you want to rack". :p Generally you want the fermentation to be fully complete, or damn close, before racking. There are exceptions, especially when dealing with lots of fruit. "Complete" fermentation will vary based on your OG, the yeast strain you choose, and how you treat the mead (temperature, nutrients, pitch rate, pH, etc etc). So in your case D-47 in a traditional tends to top out around 14-15% abv. When your SG readings stop moving and you're roughly there in alcohol content, it's "done" and ready to rack. If you had used K1V instead, you'd be looking for the SG to stop moving at a lower number since that strain tends to get you to higher abv.

Sorry for the nebulous answer. If it makes you feel any better, waiting too long to rack is almost never a problem. I'll usually not even measure the "final" SG until the mead starts clearing. Clearing is very often, but not always, a good sign that fermentation is done.

davidp80
09-20-2012, 08:29 PM
Thank you. The help is appreciated.

-Dave

Medsen Fey
09-24-2012, 10:47 PM
With your recipe, it should have a gravity below 1.000 when it's done. However, using a few raisins may not provide enough nutrient for D47 and it may take a long time to get there. I would suggest that you not rack it until it is done.

davidp80
09-27-2012, 04:18 PM
Thank you, Medsen. I'm going to take a reading in the next few days.

-Dave

delco
09-28-2012, 03:44 PM
With your recipe, it should have a gravity below 1.000 when it's done. However, using a few raisins may not provide enough nutrient for D47 and it may take a long time to get there. I would suggest that you not rack it until it is done.
I agree, I haven't had much luck with raisins. I would recommend yeast nutrients each week.

LostCargo
09-29-2012, 11:49 AM
Greetings all,

This is my first post, and I'm super-happy to be here. Thanks for providing a great resource.

Started my first batch of mead on Sunday evening. 6 gallons of water and 18 pounds of raw, local honey. One packet of D-47 yeast. 6 handfuls of raisins for nutrients.

After pitching the yeast, I remembered the hydrometer. I forgot to take the reading. Fermentation has now begun, and my question is.....how do I know when it's time to move the mead from primary into secondary.

I understand that you can just wait until bubbling has slowed or stopped, but I'd like to be more precise. Can I take a hydrometer reading to know when it's time to make the transfer even if I haven't taken the initial reading?

Thanks guys. Any help is appreciated.

-Dave

I did the same thing on my first batch. My solution, make a second batch using the same initial ingredients (honey+water) and then take a gravity reading before modifying the batch. As long as the mix is the same the SG will be the same. The taste from different times/locations that the honey was collected... well thats a different matter. :)